Summary: When your ear itches then you're going to listen to something, but it will not be sound doctrine. When we judge the word of God given by His preachers & teachers based on our belief rather than judging our belief by the scriptures they bring we're deaf.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
As a preacher and teacher of the word of God I can tell you with absolute certainty that the time Paul was speaking about is no longer a matter of “will come” but “has come.” We are living in those days now.
Something I don’t have to tell you though is that any preacher trying to point to Jesus and His word is going to have a hard time with this. I can think of several people in the Bible that dealt with people who refused to endure sound doctrine.
Moses dealt with it and said the following:
10 Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the Lord was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased. 11 And Moses said unto the Lord, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? 12 Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers? 13 Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat. 14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. 15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.
And lets not forget Jeremiah in:
7 O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived; thou art stronger than I, and hast prevailed: I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me. 8 For since I spake, I cried out, I cried violence and spoil; because the word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me, and a derision, daily. 9 Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. 10 For I heard the defaming of many, fear on every side. Report, say they, and we will report it. All my familiars watched for my halting, saying, Peradventure he will be enticed, and we shall prevail against him, and we shall take our revenge on him.
And I myself can testify that there have been times when I cried out to God to kill me so that I didn’t have to speak His word any longer. The pain of this fire shut up in the bones of the preacher is so intense that it can not be stopped, but the reality of it falling on deaf ears is a pain in itself. And the sometimes the only relief we may see is in death.
So I want to encourage the preachers out there who feel the pain of both being unable to withhold from delivering the word and at the same time seeing how that same word is treated by those who would refuse to listen to it. You are not alone.
But we are given instruction in 2 Timothy about what we should do about this. Paul tells us to preach the word in season and out of season with all longsuffering and doctrine.
Preachers, you and I both know that the word of God is spoken of as seed. Would you plant a seed outside of the proper season? Would you plant in winter? Of course not! It would never take root!
But Paul says this particular seed needs to be planted no matter what season it is. In other words it needs to be planted when people will and when people will not listen to it.
We are now in the season of winter when the ground is cold in the hearts of many people. They have itching ears, but can not endure the word of God. So preachers…our task is to preach it anyway!
Now there is something else I want to speak with you about. The first part of this message was directed at the preachers and teachers of the word of God because I believe we are in great need of knowing that we are not alone. But the next part of this message applies to everyone.